A woodcut depicting damage from the New Madrid series of earthquakes in 1811 and 1812. FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate says the threat of earthquakes on the New Madrid fault remain. (Via Wikimedia Commons)
Tomorrow marks the St. Louis kickoff of the bicentennial events commemorating the earthquakes that struck the New Madrid Seismic Zone in 1811-12. You’ve probably heard stories about those quakes: that church bells rang in Boston, that the Mississippi River ran backwards. Much of that, it turns out, is legend. So what do we know about the New Madrid fault and the risk it poses to the modern Midwest?